Saturday, November 18, 2017

Home ownership rate and me, three years later

I made a programming note in one of the footnotes to November 2017 driving update for Pearl plus Tesla Truck and Chevy Bolt news.
Yesterday was also the third anniversary of putting an offer on my current home and having it accepted.  I plan on writing about that and my prediction that the U.S. home ownership rate would start going up tomorrow.
Here's what I wrote three years ago Thursday.
I showed my hand to Greer later in the entry, when I wrote, "Now to see about buying property as it struggles off the bottom."  Well, that time has arrived.  We've made an offer on a house and it's been accepted.  Wish my wife and me luck as we both get on board, just in time for the housing market to go back up.  Yes, it's a business as usual decision and I know these are not business as usual times, but as I'm fond of saying, I can't be all DOOM all the time.
It took just over a year and a half for the home ownership rate to rise, as the Washington Post managed to document the bottom in Why the decline of the homeownership rate is good news.
The U.S. homeownership rate has just fallen to its lowest level since the Census Bureau began tracking it in 1965.

During the second quarter of this year, only 62.9 percent of U.S. households were owner-occupied residences, down from the all-time high of 69.2 percent reached in the fourth quarter of 2004.

Contrary to entrenched conventional wisdom, however, the ongoing decline of the homeownership rate is actually good news.

Here’s why: Thanks to recovering real estate values, today’s homeowners as a group have the same equity in their property — roughly 58 percent — that the record-size cohort did back in late 2004, according to the Federal Reserve. Ergo, there’s now more equity, on a per- household basis; current homeowners’ tenure is that much more sustainable and secure.

“They are now more able to weather an economic disaster,” says Ralph McLaughlin, chief economist of, the online home-listing service.

To put it another way: The United States actually has more homeownership, in economic terms, than it did when the homeownership rate, a measure of mere legal ownership, was higher. Accordingly, the economy should also be less vulnerable to another real estate shock.

We’re still not back to the rock-solid days of 1983, when the homeownership rate was a hair under 65 percent and equity hit an all-time high of 70 percent.
The following graph from the St. Louis Federal Reserve shows that previous peak in home ownership rate and then some back to the 1960s.  It also shows how small and recent the rebound in home ownership rate is.

Just the same, I'm glad to have jumped on the trend just before it turned around, just like I did the last two times when my ex-wife and I bought in 1994 (not 1995, as I misremembered), which was a little ahead of the rapid rise in home ownership, or before it accelerated, like when I sold in 2006, a couple years after the peak but before the bottom fell out of both housing values and home ownership rates.  As I wrote three years ago, "I shouldn't be reassured by moving with the herd, but in in this case, I am."

Friday, November 17, 2017

November 2017 driving update for Pearl plus Tesla Truck and Chevy Bolt news

As for the next driving anniversary, that would be November 9th.  I'm fairly confident that Pearl will pass 37,000 miles weeks later than that, as I drove a lot last October and November for the election.  There is no election this year, so no driving around dropping off lawn signs.  That means I should be driving closer to 6.500 miles per year than 7,000 miles per year at the next driving update and it won't be because I was sick -- I hope.
That's how I ended September 2017 Driving update: Pearl on September 27.  I was at least partly right, as Pearl turned over 37,000 miles on Wednesday, November 15.  That's later than November 9, but only by a week.  Time for me to run the numbers to see how far off the rest of the predictions I came.

First, September 26, when Pearl turned over 36,000 miles, to November 15 is 50 days.  That means I drove an average of exactly 20 miles per day and 610 miles per month.  That's more than the 16.39 miles per day and exactly 500 miles per standard month I drove from July 27 to September 26 this year.  That's expected, as I had more meetings to drive to and a second work location that is farther from my home.*  What I was hoping was that I'd drive less both than the comparable period last year and year-over-year.  At first glance, it looks like I did achieve the first, as I wrote "it took me 41 days for me to drive Pearl 1,000 miles and my wife 44 days to drive Dez the same distance. That means I drove 24.39 miles/day and 743.90 miles/standard month while my wife traveled 22.73 miles/day and 693.18 miles/standard month over the past seven weeks."  However, I miscalculated last year, as September 21 to November 9 is really 49 days, so I actually drove Pearl 20.41 miles per day and 622.45 miles per standard month.  Even so, I still drove less this year than during the comparable period last year, although not by much.**

As for driving less than 7,000 miles per year, I managed that, but not by as little as I had hoped.  It took 371 days to drive 7,000 miles from November 9, 2016 to November 15, 2017 for an average of 18.87 miles per day and a total of 6886.8 miles per year.  Sorry, that wasn't closer to 6,500 than to 7,000.  However, at least I wasn't sick.

Just as I did for twice before for these updates, I have news from Tesla about the latest in electric vehicles plus a bonus report about the Chevy Bolt.  Follow over the jump for those.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

A belated World Diabetes Day

I missed a holiday when I posted 'Blue Planet II': Looking forward to next year's Emmys, World Diabetes Day.
Around the globe on November 14, World Diabetes Day raises awareness and provides education concerning a disease that affects over 400 million adults internationally.

According to the International Diabetes Federation (IDF), by 2040 approximately 642 million adults will have diabetes. With diabetes causing 5 million deaths in 2015, this projection is a source of concern. Awareness, education, action and research all can make a difference.


Visit to learn more about both type 1 & 2 diabetes.  Find out how to get screened, to prevent type 2 diabetes and more about treatment.  Use #WorldDiabetesDay to share on social media.


The International Diabetes Federation & the World Health Organization created World Diabetes Day in 1991 to raise awareness of the rising threat of diabetes around the world. In 2006, the day became one of the official United Nations Days.
Since I've recently been diagnosed as a Type I diabetic and my youngest cousin died earlier this year because of complications from diabetes, this day now has extra meaning for me.  While I've posted about diabetes 34 times on this blog starting in 2011 (35 counting today), I've rarely made it a featured story, I suspect that will change beginning with observing World Diabetes Day from now on.

Today, I'll close by posting this video about the international symbol for diabetes, the blue circle.

HIV/Aids has the red ribbon. But what is the international symbol for diabetes?
I'll be happy to wear a blue circle pin to increase awareness starting next year.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

An animated 'Star Trek' PSA for America Recycles Day 2017

Happy America Recycles Day!  For today's celebration of a holiday I first (and last) observed in 2013, I'm sharing StarTrek Keep America Beautiful PSA.

As we celebrate Keep America Beautiful Month, let's throwback to the mid-1970s when Captain Kirk, Spock, Sulu and the rest of the StarTrek crew supported our work. #DoBeautifulThings #TBT
It's not just Keep America Beautiful, it's keep the universe beautiful, too.

While the above certainly fits several of the themes of this blog, especially as it has evolved over the years, it's not a conventional America Recycles Day message.  The City of Lake Forest, California has one of those, complete with lots of good tips.

On November 15, join the City of Lake of Forest in making a#BeRecycled  pledge for America Recycles Day and demonstrate how it's #Easy2bGreen!
All that advice means today is not just America Recycles Day, but also America Reuses and Reduces Day as well.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

'Blue Planet II': Looking forward to next year's Emmys

I changed my mind about writing more about this year's News and Documentary Emmy winners.  Instead, I've decided to look ahead to shows that might win at next year's Emmy ceremonies.

The first is "Blue Planet II."  Like "Planet Earth II," it's a sequel to a famous BBC series from a decade ago.  Also like "Planet Earth II," it has great music, beginning with Radiohead & Hans Zimmer - (ocean) bloom.

Radiohead, one of the world’s most acclaimed rock bands, and Hans Zimmer, one of the planet’s most successful movie and TV composers, have joined forces to produce an exclusive track for BBC America’s upcoming natural history series, Planet Earth: Blue Planet II, coming to BBC Ameria in early 2018.

Radiohead and Hans Zimmer’s orchestrally reimagined version of the Radiohead song ‘(ocean) bloom’ from their 2011 album sees Radiohead’s Thom Yorke rerecord the vocals and produced by Russell Emanuel of Bleeding Fingers Music, the company which also crafted the BAFTA & Emmy-nominated score to BBC America's Planet Earth II.

Thom Yorke of Radiohead shares our excitement for the project: “Bloom was inspired by the original Blue Planet series so it’s great to be able to come full circle with the song and reimagine it for this incredible landmark’s sequel. Hans is a prodigious composer who effortlessly straddles several musical genres so it was liberating for us all to work with such a talent and see how he wove the sound of the series’ and Bloom together.”

In turn, Hans Zimmer says: “Bloom appears to have been written ahead of its time as it beautifully reflects the jaw-dropping lifeforms and seascapes viewers are introduced to in Blue Planet II. Working with Thom, Jonny and the boys has been a wonderful diversion and it’s given me an interesting peek into their musical world. They’ve been incredible to work with and I hope everyone likes the track.”
Vox has more on the song in How Hans Zimmer and Radiohead transformed "Bloom" for Blue Planet II.

Radiohead's "Bloom," remixed for the ocean.
If you listen closely enough to Radiohead and Hans Zimmer’s rework of “Bloom” for Blue Planet II, you can hear a really fascinating orchestral trick at work. They call it the “tidal orchestra” — it’s a musical effect created by instructing each player to play their notes only if the person next to them isn’t playing. The result is a randomly swelling and fading musical bed for the entire series that captures the feeling of ocean waves. It’s a captivating way to score a soundtrack for the ocean — but it also fits in with a long history of capturing randomness in music composition.
While this song in this form is only being used in this promotional clip, which itself might be nominated for Best Commercial or Promo, its melody does make it into the main theme.

Blue Planet II: Hans Zimmer Theme Live Recording - BBC Earth
We take an exclusive look at how the Blue Planet II music score from Hans Zimmer has been recorded at the Synchron Stage in Vienna.
I fully expect this series' score to be nominated along with more nominations for Outstanding Documentary or Nonfiction Series and Outstanding Cinematography for a Nonfiction Program -- but my readers and I won't know that until next summer.  Stay tuned.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Dance for World Kindness Day

Happy World Kindness Day!
On November 13 as part of World Kindness Day, we are encouraged to spread kindness like an infectious cold. We want to share it more than usual because studies show when others observe kindness in action they are more likely to carry out an act of kindness, too.

So, imagine if you head out for the day and your neighbor’s garbage can has tipped over. Instead of ignoring it and letting the wind make a mess, you pick it up and return it to the corner. Three other neighbors notice and give you a smile and a nod on their way to work.

One of those neighbors notices a stranded driver on the side of the road on his commute to work. He remembers your thoughtfulness and offers assistance to the stranded driver. Several passersby take notice.

At a business office, a woman struggles with a paper jam. She’s had a horrible day. The customer has been waiting, but she remembers the stranded driver she passed earlier in the day. The customer lets the office worker know to take her time. Everyone has a bad day.

We each have the potential to improve each others lives through understanding and kindness. Whether it’s a friend, family member, coworker or stranger, our ability to show our humanity should have no limit.


On World Kindness Day, let your compassion shine brightly.  Get caught showing as much kindness as possible.
To celebrate, there has been a World Wide Dance for Kindness since 2012.  KTVU documented the preparation for this year's event in Bay Area dancer choreographs flash mob for World Kindness Day.

People in over 50 countries will perform the routine. KTVU's Claudine Wong reports.
For all of last year's finished product, portions of which were included above, watch the official Dance for Kindness 2016 Worldwide Montage from Life Vest Inside.

Every year Life Vest Inside organizes Dance for Kindness (DFK), a worldwide event, in honor of World Kindness Day - showing that regardless of the differences in race, religion, ethnicity, culture and background - the common thread that unites us all is kindness.

In 2016, DFK took place in over 120 cities, 50 countries with over 15,000 participants.
It turns out that yesterday was Dance for Kindness 2017 and videos are already being posted, such as this one from Sudbury, Ontario, Canada.

CMHA and Spotlight Dance Company hit the downtown for a flashmob for World Kindness Day.

As for the message, I think kindness won't be sufficient to solve our problems, but I think it will be necessary.  Be kind today.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Yet another attempt at a 'Ringworld' movie/miniseries plus bonus 'Snow Crash' from Amazon

For the Sunday entertainment feature, I'm recycling what I wrote on Dreamwidth.
Four years ago, I wrote Finally, a Ringworld movie!
That's the one in which I repeated my twenty-year-old grousing about how I wrote an adventure for Chaosium's Ringworld table-top RPG, but lost all that effort because the movie rights to the book were sold and the movie production company asserted that they had the game rights, too.  To add insult to injury, there was no movie.  Apparently, that will change, as SyFy announced that they will develop the book into a four-hour miniseries.
The good news was that it became one of the two most read posts of that year.  The bad news is that no "Ringworld" movie or miniseries came of it.

Not all is lost, as io9 reported this week Amazon Is Developing a Bonanza of Genre Titles: Ringworld, Snow Crash, and Lazarus.
Amazon just announced a virtual land grab of genre titles that it’s putting into development: Larry Niven’s scifi classic Ringworld; Neal Stephenson’s cult classic Snow Crash; and Greg Rucka’s acclaimed comic Lazarus. In a perfect world, we could be seeing all three made into drama series.

As Deadline reports, the announcement comes as the streaming network is hoping to land a “big-scope genre drama series in the mold of Game Of Thrones and The Walking Dead.” There aren’t too many details yet, but the standout points include: the Ringworld project will likely draw not just from Niven’s 1970 original, but other books in the series; Rucka will be adapting Lazarus himself from page to screen; and Snow Crash will be co-produced by Joe Cornish, who at one time had the project on his own feature-directing slate.
I'm a lot more confident in Amazon pulling off "Ringworld" than I was about SyFy, so I'm looking forward to it.  The other project I want to see is "Snow Crash."  It may not be the best of Stephenson's novels, but it is the best-known and it's a lot of fun.  Here's to both of them reaching the small screen before the decade is out!
Here's to getting that "Ringworld" movie I was promised 33 years ago, even if it ends up being a series streaming on Amazon!

Saturday, November 11, 2017

'The Commandant's Own' for a drum corps Veterans Day 2017

Happy Veterans Day, everyone!  Three years ago, I wished my readers a drum corps Veterans Day, in which I featured corps from all branches of the armed services.  This year, I'm featuring just the U.S. Marine Corps Drum and Bugle Corps, AKA "The Commandant's Own."  Not only is today Veterans Day, yesterday was the Marine Corps Birthday and the Marine Corps Drum and Bugle Corps was founded on November 4, 1934.  A triple celebration for a single organization!

Without any further ado, I present "The Commandant's Own" at the 2016 DCI World Championships.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Vox on how biomimicry demonstrates that Nature knows best

Here's what I wrote in the comments to The world is poorly designed. But copying nature helps.
Barry Commoner's Third Law of Ecology states "Nature knows best."  One of the corollaries of Commoner's Second Law of Ecology is "There is no 'waste' in Nature."  This video demonstrates both of them.
It also touches on Commoner's First Law: Everything is connected to everything else.  Watch and see that I'm right about the use of Commoner's Laws in biomimicry.

Japan’s Shinkansen doesn’t look like your typical train. With its long and pointed nose, it can reach top speeds up to 150–200 miles per hour.

It didn’t always look like this. Earlier models were rounder and louder, often suffering from the phenomenon of "tunnel boom," where deafening compressed air would rush out of a tunnel after a train rushed in. But a moment of inspiration from engineer and birdwatcher Eiji Nakatsu led the system to be redesigned based on the aerodynamics of three species of birds.

Nakatsu’s case is a fascinating example of biomimicry, the design movement pioneered by biologist and writer Janine Benyus. She's a co-founder of the Biomimicry Institute, a non-profit encouraging creators to discover how big challenges in design, engineering, and sustainability have often already been solved through 3.8 billion years of evolution on earth. We just have to go out and find them.
Benyus also touches on Commoner's Fourth Law, there is no free lunch, in the following quote.

I think she is absolutely right.  So do a lot of viewers, as this video is currently #14 on YouTube's trending list.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Vox explains how proportional representation can solve gerrymandering and help minor parties

I was originally planning on writing about the Virginia and New Jersey election results today, but Vox's How to break the two-party hold on American politics struck my fancy instead.  Watch as it explains how proportional representation can solve gerrymandering and help minor parties.

Replacing our current system with proportional representation will make more room for the wide range of views in US politics.
Matthew Yglesias expands on this video in The real fix for gerrymandering is proportional representation.
Creating majority-minority districts to ensure racial representation can look a lot like “packing” Democratic voters into lopsided seats. Aiming at fair fights sounds nice but will end up violating communities of interest. Aiming for partisan fairness will necessarily involve some odd squiggles, since neighborhood-level partisanship can be very disparate.

So I asked this scholar: “What about proportional representation?”

She said that when she teaches redistricting law, she does proportional representation last because it solves all the problems and the point of the class is for the students to work through the different complexities and legal doctrines governing the American system. That seems smart as a pedagogical approach, but as an agenda for political reform, solving all the problems is a good idea.
This is a solution that would address several issues I've explored here, redistricting/gerrymandering, Duverger's Law, and minor parties.  It would make the first essentially irrelevant, it would eliminate the conditions for the second (single-member districts with first past the post winners), and would allow people to cast votes for minor parties without "wasting their vote."*  It's also a really radical solution by U.S. standards, but a Crazy Eddie like me might just approve of a radical solution to preserve and improve democracy.

*I disagree with this characterization.  To me, the person who wastes a vote is the one who stays home.  At least people voting for the Libertarians, Greens, or Constitution Party are making a point.